PricewaterhouseCoopers Russia (PwC) will come under renewed scrutiny in a Moscow court as lawyers for the jailed former owners of the Yukos oil group, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, fight charges of embezzlement.
Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are expected to claim that PwC withdrew 10 years of Yukos audits due to pressure from the Kremlin, various media sources have reported.
PwC withdrew its 1996 to 2006 Yukos audits after its Moscow office was raided by police in June 2007. At the time, there was also a court case that threatened its operating licence.
PwC has denied the allegations, claiming that the Russian government had renewed its operating licence in April 2007. The Big Four firm said the decision to revoke its audit opinions was made when prosecutors provided information that indicated the Yukos management had lied on several key issues.
Khodorkovsky’s legal problems began in 2003. When Russian prosecutors brought another set of tax evasion charges against him in 2007, PwC was also placed under a preliminary criminal investigation.
The case against PwC was dropped after the firm withdrew its audit opinion.